Uranus Mega-Storms Reminds Us How Violent Our Solar System Is

Epic storms brewing on Earth have been taking the world by surprise for the last decade. Disastrous, chaotic and super-destructive, our Super Storms have taken a deep toll in terms of loss of life and property. We’re so busy watching our own backyard that it seems irrelevant to worry about Uranus mega-storms happening right now — but maybe not.

National Geographic reveals that Uranus, the seventh pebble from the Sun, is generally a very calm pale blue-green planet in our Solar System. Infrared images made at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii show a planet coming unleashed with several mega-storms happening all at once on the surface of Uranus.

Scientists are puzzled over the new discovery made this summer and are working around the clock to discover what would trigger these Uranus mega-storms.

On August 5 and 6, a team of scientists observed at least eight Uranus mega-storms brewing in the planet’s northern hemisphere. One of the storms accounts for 30 percent of all the reflected light seen from the surface of the planet, which has made the Uranus mega-storms highly visible to astronomers worldwide, even though Uranus is in one of the darkest locations in our Solar System.

Hubble looked at the Uranus mega-storms on October 24 and observed multiple giant storms that extend more than 5500 miles across, at various altitudes. This is three-quarters the diameter of Earth.

The Irish Examiner reports that amateurs and pros alike are paying close attention to Uranus mega-storms, which can be seen through binoculars on a clear night.

Known for its quiet blue-green beauty, Uranus mega-storms are rare. Uranus is wrapped in an atmosphere of hydrogen and helium and has a diameter four times that of the Earth. Methane gas is responsible for the blue color observers see when star gazing.

Co-investigator Heidi Hammel of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy said, “This type of activity would have been expected in 2007, when Uranus’s once every 42-year equinox occurred and the Sun shined directly on the equator, but we predicted that such activity would have died down by now. Why we see these incredible storms now is beyond anybody’s guess.”

Larry Sromovsky, a planetary scientist at the University of Wisconsin, believes that the Uranus mega-storms’ “colors and morphology of this cloud complex suggests that the storm may be tied to a vortex in the deeper atmosphere similar to two large cloud complexes seen during the equinox.”

The Inquisitr adds even more mystery with revelations about collisions that could explain why Uranus is tilted sideways. The mysteries of space beckon us — and we heed the call.

[Image via NASA]